To beat COVID-19, we need a global vaccination effort. How is that going?

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

Even with several vaccines approved for emergency use, there remains the tremendous challenge of producing enough of them for the world’s population. An estimated one billion doses will need to be manufactured just to vaccinate workers in health care and other essential industries globally, and that is if only a single dose is required for each person. (Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses.)

This task has both motivated countries to scale up production, as well as pitted them against one another amid fears of a limited vaccine supply. Wealthy countries including Australia, Canada, and the United States have struck deals with manufacturers to provide their countries with more than enough doses for their populations, leaving lower-income countries unable to immunize but a small proportion of their populations in the coming months.

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Brazil, China, and India all have large vaccine industries, which will allow them to reserve some of their vaccine supplies for their own citizens. Experts including CFR’s Thomas J. Bollyky have warned that bidding wars over vaccines will lead to inequitable distribution and, ultimately, fail to eliminate the risk of new outbreaks. In a sign of cooperation, Group of Twenty (G20) countries pledged at a November summit to ensure affordable vaccine access globally, though they did not specify new funding commitments.

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